Scalloway is the former capital of Shetland, a nicely nestled haven on the west coast of the Shetland mainland. My ‘relationship’ to Scalloway is the hotel, Scalloway hotel where I have stayed only once, but this stay made its impact. It is a small, but fine hotel where they put their pride in decorating the rooms with local products and serving great Shetland food. Though not only. Les mer
It could of course just be me. Even though I don’t think so. I am above average interested in cheese and was not aware of the hidden cheese heaven Portugal is. Know they make cheese here, yes, but not so much, and not that so much is from raw milk.
Hail the supermarkets
The supermarkets is full of regional raw milk cheese. Many artisan, though not all. A majority from ewe’s milk and some from cow. Goat is more rare, mostly pasteurized, even though I managed to find one raw. But there are a few blends blends with goat milk. Some of the ewe milk cheese is hard, some is firm to semi firm and quite a few are spoonable.
Ewe’s milk cheese in majority
Portugal seems to be the country where production of ewe’s milk cheese is most widespread. Comes in different sizes, but they’re all rounds. Unless they are treated with oil and paprika powder the rinds are generally of beige color. Hard and non-edible. I do not know if it is a washed rind, it might seem so, but the texture is a bit plasticky.
It is hard to know if the cheese is farmstead, artisanal, cooperative or industrial. Partly because of the language of course, I do not speak portuguese, but it also seems like most of the cheese is consumed locally and therefore there is not so much need for any international sites. I need to do some more research in other words.
The best cow’s milk cheese comes from the Azores
So they make traditional firm cow’s milk cheese as well. And the best comes from the islands, which in this case is the Azores. Quite far into the Atlantic, west of Portugal. Queijo São Jorge DOP is the most famous. Comes in at least two versions; four and seven months of maturity. An alternative is the Topo Queijo curado, also from raw cow’s milk, but without the DOP certification. I’ll come back to the actual tasting, later.
The hidden cheese heaven
Having explored the portuguese cheese marked for a good week or so, I am very positively surprised and have no doubt this is the hidden cheese heaven. So much excellent cheese, and so readily available.
I find it natural to drink a white to these cheeses, though not Vinho Verde as they are too crisp, but Duoro and Alentejo whites will work very well. Since we’re in Portugal, Port is a good choice as well. Works well with most cheese.
Bought a little cheese yesterday. Nothing much, a piece of Brillat-Savarin and a chèvre that we shared between us last night. The Brilliat-Savarin was on my daughter’s demand; excellent as always. On of few pasteurized cheeses I really enjoy. The Chèvre, slightly dry as expected and finely balanced. For breakfast this morning I had it; Crottin de Chavignol fried in bacon fat. What a pleasant surprise. Chèvre is a very friendly cheese to put in the oven, on the grill or as I did, fried in bacon fat in a frying pan. You really should try it.
A twist for the better?
Just as you know, I did not eat it with the bacon, not need for that 🙂 Warm Chèvre expresses quite other flavors than served natural. Of course, the fat added a pleasant note to the cheese. For the better. Not saying the cheese needs it, Crottin de Chavignol is excellent as it is. But every now and then a twist is for the better.
[otw_shortcode_info_box border_type=»bordered» border_style=»bordered» icon_type=»general foundicon-right-arrow»]This goat milk cheese is from the Berry area of the Loire. As with most of these cheeses it tastes quite different fresh and ripe. Becomes drier with storage. Most often it is eaten young when it is moist and has a more tender taste than the stored varieties. The taste is more elegant young but with distinct goat flavor. Also possible to get a blue stain mark when it is stored for more than a month. AOP since 1976.[/otw_shortcode_info_box]On toast
Have it on a toast, you can of course fry the slice of bread in the same fat as the cheese, but it might be a bit hefty. So perhaps better to just put the bread in the toaster, or on the grill.
With this there is nothing better than a good cup of tea. Assam with a touch of milk. At least if you have the little treat for breakfast. Otherwise a good Sancerre will do. Crottin de Chavignol and Sancerre are from the same area, so that usually works.
We’re heading to Portugal for a few days. And I am going to explore Portuguese cheese. They have quite a few good ones, a lot with DOP (or AOP) protection. I found an article about Portuguese cheese, so I am a bit informed, but I also think I have to do my own field research. Have a few addresses to some good shops in Lisbon especially, but hoping to find something outside of the capital as well.
We’re starting off in Lisbon and ending up there before we’re heading home. In between, a little bit of this and a little bit of that.
Portugal is a food country. Like Spain food is rustic, not so complicated. Good food and good wine. As simple as that. A cup of coffee and an aguardente. Long lunches.
Apart from the cheese I am particularly looking forward to having wet salted cod, bacalhau, prepared in numerous ways. They are masters at it. If you’ve never had it, this is the place to try it (in addition to Brazil). It is said that Portuguese men are able to prepare a different dish of Bacalhau for every day of the year. That’s 365 different recipes. Quite a few more than I know.
But I will keep you informed, bring my camera and snap a few fine shots to share with you. I’ve been to quite a few places around the world, but I’ve never been to Portugal before. Shame really. So if you have any tips on what to do, where, I am more than happy if you share.
White from the Vinho Verde and others worth exploring, reds from the Duoro and Dao and other local varieties. Port of course. There is a lot of good wine in Portugal at a reasonable price.